Active Phytoremediation Wall System

Modular green wall system


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US United States

In development

About the project Edit

The Center for Architecture Science and Ecology created a new modular green wall system that bares the plants roots and increases air-cleaning efficiency. Green walls have been touted as a balm for cubicle-weary office workers for years, but the Center for Architecture Science and Ecology—a collaboration between Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill—has created a new prototype that would work with a building’s existing HVAC system to reduce energy loads and improve indoor air quality. The Active Phytoremediation Wall System is a modular wall system of pods housing hydroponic plants. Because the plants’ roots are exposed, instead of being buried in soil, the plants’ air-cleaning capacity increases by 200 to 300 percent.

Air moves through a perforated air intake duct—a series of mini-jets are being developed to encourage airflow—and directly over the root system. This allows the rhizomes on the roots to essentially digest airborne toxins—VOCs, particulate matter, and other biological and chemical pollutants—without the plant itself becoming toxic (which is what happens when the toxins are taken in solely through the leaves). The cleaned air then flows out of each pod through a series of clean air ducts and is reintroduced to the environment.

In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

The pods themselves are made from vacuum-formed plastic, and the form allows the maximum amount of air to reach the root rhizomes while using the minimum amount of material. On top of that, it creates a beautiful base for the plants. Usually, remediation is either technically believable or aesthetically pleasing, but not both,” said John Ronan. “This one’s both.”

What is the social value of this project? Edit

The Active Phytoremediation Wall System is a hybrid system improving indoor air quality while decreasing both energy consumption and exposure to air pollution associated with external air conditioning systems. The APWS can remove many of the toxins associated with poor indoor air quality (IAQ) by augmenting the air cleaning capacity of common plants by 200 times.

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

The wall system can be installed in large commercial interiors, but works equally well in small settings—a four-module system in an apartment would have the impact of 800 to 1200 house plants. The first test-bed site will be PSAC II, an emergency response center in New York designed by the local office of SOM, where it will be the aesthetic centerpiece of the lobby.

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